By Tina H. Hahn
University of Mississippi
Stephanie Jennings Teague, of Chicago, sees her commitment of $100,000 to the Patterson School of Accountancy’s new building at the University of Mississippi as a means of saying “thank you.”
“It is a way to show a small token of my appreciation to Ole Miss, the faculty and staff, and the accounting program,” said the alumna, who earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in accounting in 2011 and 2012 respectively. “This was a great opportunity to give back to the university and the accountancy school for something that will be around for generations to come.
“I hope the long-term impact of my gift will be that it fosters the next generation of students to have a place they can grow individually, network and go after their dreams.”
The four-story building, featuring 110,000 square feet of tiered auditoriums and classrooms, study areas, conference rooms and more, is to be constructed at the corner of University Avenue and Grove Loop, overlooking the Grove. Its cost is estimated at more than $75 million.
“The new building plans will take the accountancy program to the next level,” Teague said. “Having a stand-alone space, which will be one of the first buildings you see while coming onto campus by the Grove, will draw even more attention to the school and provide a community place to gather.”
The school offers a bachelor’s degree, four master’s degrees and a doctorate in accountancy. The master’s degrees include two new ones in data analytics: Master of Accountancy and Data Analytics and Master of Taxation and Data Analytics.
It is the top accounting school in the SEC and has ranked among the top 10 programs nationally for more than a decade. Big4AccountingFirms.org ranked the Ole Miss program No. 8 in the nation in 2022.
Since graduation, Teague has worked 10 years with Tyson Foods, where she has had multiple opportunities to further her career in different positions.
“I jumped at all of them,” she said. “This led me to relocating six times within a seven-year period, living in North Carolina three times, Texas, Mississippi and currently in Chicago. My career path has taken me down many roads with different roles within various segments of the company.”
The young alumna said she was well prepared by her education at Ole Miss.
“One of the biggest impacts to my career that the Patterson School of Accountancy prepared me for is how to network and build relationships,” Teague said. “The events the school hosts that gave me professional exposure to private and public accounting companies and the camaraderie across the students, faculty and staff allowed me to hone and develop my soft skill set that is imperative to preparedness in business situations.”
Mark Wilder, the school’s dean, expressed appreciation for Teague’s gift.
“She is excelling in her career at Tyson Foods and is moving up the corporate ladder very quickly,” he said. “It is exciting and inspiring when our young graduates are successful and want to give back generously.”
Teague is group controller over Tyson Food’s Bruss Co. business unit, with responsibilities in Chicago and Jacksonville, Florida. She manages all the financial and accounting activities for this group.
Besides being responsible for profit and loss statements, balance sheets, operational/sales/commercial accounting, and projections and strategy, she is helping drive improvements in processes, determine best practices and champion financial transformation using data analytics. She also serves as a business partner while providing insights for the broader team.
At Tyson, Teague has also been part of leadership development programs and project teams focused on system integration, mergers and acquisitions, and financial transformation.
A native of Hickory, North Carolina, Teague chose Ole Miss after a family member who attended the university encouraged her to visit.
“I fell in love with Ole Miss as soon as I visited,” she said. “The feeling of home you get when you drive on campus, the atmosphere at baseball games, Saturdays in the Grove and the fact that you run into someone you know everywhere you go are just a few of the school’s charms,” she said.
Teague traveled an unconventional path to her accounting major. Always interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields growing up, she started college as a pharmacy major. But when taking her first accounting class during her sophomore year, she discovered her true passion.
Her professor suggested that she join the School of Accountancy, so she took dual classes the rest of the year and then officially switched to accounting her junior year. After graduation, she remained on the Oxford campus to earn a master’s degree.
One of the educational opportunities she enjoyed as an undergraduate was studying abroad in London on a course led by professor J Shaw.
“I love to travel, and this was an experience that I was glad to have as a part of my education,” Teague said. “It was great to see different cultures and see the global reach and connections that the university has.
“As someone who now works for a global company, it helped me to relate and want to learn more about different people.”
For more information on supporting the Patterson School of Accountancy Building Fund, contact Jason McCormick, director of development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-1757.